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Live: Apple introduces iOS 12, macOS Mojave

Screen shot: Apple.com

While the new iPhones won't show up until the fall, the software that powers them is debuting at Apple's annual WWDC developer event in San Jose, Calif.

The bottom line: FaceTime will have group video chat with up to 32 participants, new settings in iOS 12 will help manage notifications and help people manage “screen time” and Apple says apps will launch 40% faster, with better keyboard and camera performance. The next version of macOS, "Mojave" includes Apple News, a dark mode and tighter iPhone integration.

As first reported by Axios in January, Apple delayed some iOS and MacOS features planned for this year in order to focus on reliability and performance.

The big news: Tim Cook kicked things off, announcing some stats, including the fact Apple is about to hit $100 billion paid out to developers from the App Store. Apple showed off iOS 12 with new features around managing screen time, improved augmented reality features and improvements to Animoji and group video chat within FaceTime.

“Today is all about software,” Cook said, perhaps further dampening hopes of a significant new hardware launch.

iOS:

  • iOS 12 will be made available for free this fall. It will also work on all the devices that can run iOS 11. A developer beta is coming later today.
  • "We are doubling down on performance," Federighi said, adding that apps will launch 40 percent faster with better keyboard and camera performance as well.
  • As for new features, Apple starts with improvements to augmented reality, including a new file format co-developed with Pixar. Adobe will support the new format natively in its creative apps.
  • ARKit 2, part of iOS 12,, will support improved face tracking as well as support for shared AR experiences among multiple users as well as objects that persist from one AR session to another. An executive from Lego joined to show how ARKit can let its bricks come to life, with multiple players adding to the virtual bricks.
  • The Photos app is getting new searching and sharing capabilities, some of which help close the gap with Google Photos in terms of being able to search for different types of images.
  • With Siri, you can create your own actions for things like "I lost my keys" or "help me relax." A new shortcuts app lets you create more detailed moves on the screen as well, likely building on Apple's homegrown Automator tools as well as the app Workflow it bought last year.
  • Apple's stocks app is getting a redesign, with after-hours stock pricing and Apple News integrated. Also iBooks becomes Apple Books, recorded voice memos will now be synchronized across devices and CarPlay will support third-party maps for the first time.
  • Animoji gains Ghost, Koala, Tiger and T-Rex as well as "tongue detection" and personalized "Memoji" Samsung tried that last thing with Galaxy S9, to mixed results. While less automated than Samung's, Apple's effort aims to give users very fine control over hair length, style and even amount of freckles.
  • There are also new live photo filters that mix Animoji and Memoji with live photos.

Digital well-being:

  • As expected, Federighi said Apple is offering a new set of built-in features to limit digital distraction.
  • "Some apps demand more of our attention than we might realize," he said. "They beg us to use our phone when we really should be doing something else."
  • Apple is adding new "do not disturb" options, including one specifically for bedtime.
  • It will also have more tools to manage notifications, grouping them by thread or downplaying those from certain applications.
  • A "screen time" app lets users see stats on how often they are using which apps, how often one is picking up their phones as well as the ability to set per-app limits.
  • Kids can get an activity report on their device, with parents getting their own report and the ability to set screen time "allowances" by app or category, as well as setting times where screens aren't allowed at all. This is similar to parental control capabilities that Amazon has offered for some time.
  • The moves are similar to some of those Google announced at its developer conference last month.

FaceTime

  • Group video chat is now supported, with up to 32 participants.
  • Animoji, stickers and the new filters also work in FaceTime.
  • It works on iPhone, iPad and Mac (and audio-only on Apple Watch).

Apple Watch

  • Among other new features, WatchOS 5 lets users challenge friends to a 7-day activity competition. Apple Watch will also now be able to track yoga sessions (primarily via heart rate) and hiking (which combines elevation and other data) and offer new features for runners.
  • A new walkie-talkie feature lets you send short audio messages back and forth over wifi or cellular.
  • The Siri watch face can now show more types of data, including sports scores, shortcuts, or your heart rate.
  • With WatchOS 5, users can now lets you view snippets of Web content and get more interactive notifications. The Apple Podcast app is also coming to Apple Watch.
  • Not announced: The hoped-for ability to create custom watch faces.

Apple TV

  • New features, include support for Dolby Atmos sound as well as more live news and sports channels.

macOS

  • The next version of macOS will be dubbed Mojave (ending a four-year run of mountain themed names, but keeping with California place names.)
  • It includes a dark mode for nighttime work or dark environments.
  • For hoarders like me, Mojave automatically stacks a crowded desktop into types of files like screenshots, photos and spreadsheets.
  • A bunch of new options for screenshots, including capturing video.
  • Continuity Camera makes it easier to capture a photo or scan a document on an iPhone and have it instantly appear on a Mac.
  • Apple News comes to the Mac with Mojave, as do Apple Stocks, Home and Voice Memos apps.
  • Apple will offer more notification when apps want to access the camera, microphone or mail and message histories.
  • Apple will also introduce changes with Mojave and Safari to make it harder to track you based on Web cookies or other system data.
  • Apple is redesigning the Mac App Store and is bringing over some longtime holdouts. Microsoft is bringing Office 365 to the Mac App Store and Adobe is bringing Lightroom, for example.
  • Developer beta coming later today, final release in the fall.

Bringing iOS apps to the Mac

  • Apple gave a sneak peek of this, but stressed it is a multi-year effort. Apple itself is dabbling this year, bringing iOS apps like Stocks and Voice Memos to the Mac. Developers will get their first opportunities next year, Federighi said.
  • There are millions of iOS apps, Federighi said. "We think some of them would be absolutely great on the Mac."
  • But, he stressed Apple is not merging macOS and iOS. "No," he said. "Of course not."

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